Memoirs of Aaron Burr, Complete
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Memoirs of Aaron Burr, Complete

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Project Gutenberg's Memoirs of Aaron Burr, Complete, by Matthew L. DavisCopyright laws are changing all over the world. Be sure to check the copyright laws for your country before downloadingor redistributing this or any other Project Gutenberg eBook.This header should be the first thing seen when viewing this Project Gutenberg file. Please do not remove it. Do notchange or edit the header without written permission.Please read the "legal small print," and other information about the eBook and Project Gutenberg at the bottom of thisfile. Included is important information about your specific rights and restrictions in how the file may be used. You can alsofind out about how to make a donation to Project Gutenberg, and how to get involved.**Welcome To The World of Free Plain Vanilla Electronic Texts****eBooks Readable By Both Humans and By Computers, Since 1971*******These eBooks Were Prepared By Thousands of Volunteers!*****Title: Memoirs of Aaron Burr, CompleteAuthor: Matthew L. DavisRelease Date: April, 2005 [EBook #7852] [Yes, we are more than one year ahead of schedule] [This file was first postedon May 23, 2003]Edition: 10Language: English*** START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK MEMOIRS OF AARON BURR, COMPLETE ***Produced by Marvin Hodges, Stan Goodman and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team[Frontispiece: A. Burr]MEMOIRS OF AARON BURR.WITH MISCELLANEOUS SELECTIONSFROM HIS CORRESPONDENCE.BY MATTHEW L. DAVIS."I come to bury Caesar, not to ...

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Project Gutenberg's Memoirs of Aaron Burr, Complete, by Matthew L. Davis
Copyright laws are changing all over the world. Be sure to check the copyright laws for your country before downloading or redistributing this or any other Project Gutenberg eBook.
This header should be the first thing seen when viewing this Project Gutenberg file. Please do not remove it. Do not change or edit the header without written permission.
Please read the "legal small print," and other information about the eBook and Project Gutenberg at the bottom of this file. Included is important information about your specific rights and restrictions in how the file may be used. You can also find out about how to make a donation to Project Gutenberg, and how to get involved.
**Welcome To The World of Free Plain Vanilla Electronic Texts**
**eBooks Readable By Both Humans and By Computers, Since 1971**
*****These eBooks Were Prepared By Thousands of Volunteers!*****
Title: Memoirs of Aaron Burr, Complete
Author: Matthew L. Davis
Release Date: April, 2005 [EBook #7852] [Yes, we are more than one year ahead of schedule] [This file was first posted on May 23, 2003] Edition: 10 Language: English
*** START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK MEMOIRS OF AARON BURR, COMPLETE ***
Produced by Marvin Hodges, Stan Goodman and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team
[Frontispiece: A. Burr]
MEMOIRS OFAARON BURR.
WITH MISCELLANEOUS SELECTIONS
FROM HIS CORRESPONDENCE.
BYMATTHEW L. DAVIS.
"I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him."
IN TWO VOLUMES.
VOL. I.
* * * * * Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1836, by
MATTHEW L. DAVIS,
in the Clerk's Office of the Southern District of New-York. * * * * *
PREFACE.
During a period of forty years I was intimately acquainted with Colonel Burr, and have reason to suppose that I possessed his entire confidence. Some time after his return from Europe in 1812, on different occasions, he suggested casually a wish that I would make notes of hispolitical life. When the Memoirs and Correspondence of Mr. Jefferson were published, he was much excited at the statements which were made in his Ana respecting the presidential contest in Congress in 1801.
He procured and sent me a copy of the work, with a request that I would peruse the parts designated by him. From this time forward he evinced an anxiety that I would prepare his Memoirs, offering me the use of all his private papers, and expressing a willingness to explain any doubtful points, and to dictate such parts of his early history as I might require. These propositions led to frequent and full conversations. I soon discovered that Colonel Burr was far more tenacious of hismilitary, than of his professional, political, or moral character. His prejudices against General Washington were immoveable. They were formed in the summer of 1776, while he resided at headquarters; and they were confirmed unchangeably by the injustice which he said he had experienced at the hands of the commander-in-chief immediately after the battle of Long Island, and the retreat of the American army from the city of New-York. These grievances he wished to mingle with his own history; and he was particularly anxious to examine the military movements of General Washington on different occasions, but more especially at the battle of Monmouth, in which battle Colonel Burr commanded a brigade in Lord Stirling's division. I peremptorily refused entering upon any such discussion; and, for some time, all communication on the subject ceased.
Colonel Burr, however, renewed the conversation relative to his Memoirs, and agreed that any thing which might be written should be confined to himself. With this understanding I frequently visited him, and made notes under his dictation. I never asked him a question on any subject, or in relation to any man or measure, that he did not promptly and willingly answer. On his part there was no desire of concealment; nor did he ever express to me a wish to suppress an account of any act of his whole life. So far as I could judge, his only apprehensions were that "kind friends," as he sometimes termed them, by attempts at explanation, might unintentionally misrepresent acts which they did not understand.
I devoted the summer of 1835 to an examination of his letters and papers, of which there is an immense quantity. The whole of them were placed in my hands, to be used at my discretion. I was authorized to take from among them whatever I supposed would aid me in preparing the contemplated book.
I have undertaken the work, aware of the delicacy and responsibility of the task. But, if I know myself, it has been performed with the most scrupulous regard to my own reputation for correctness. I have aimed to state facts, and the fair deductions from them, without the slightest intermixture of personal feeling. I am very desirous that a knowledge of Mr. Burr's character and conduct should be derived from his miscellaneous correspondence, and not from what his biographer might write, unsupported by documentary testimony. With this view many of his private letters are selected for publication.
I entertain a hope that I shall escape the charge of egotism. I have endeavoured to avoidthatground of offence, whatever may have been my literary sins in other respects. It is proper for me, however, in this place, and for a single purpose, to depart from the course pursued in the body of the work. It is a matter of perfect notoriety, that among the papers left in my possession by the late Colonel Burr, there was a mass of letters and copies of letters written or received by him, from time to time, during a long life, indicating no very strict morality in some of his female correspondents. These letters contained matter that would have wounded the feelings of families more extensively than could be imagined. Their publication would have had a most injurious tendency, and created heartburnings that nothing but time could have cured.
As soon as they came under my control I mentioned the subject to Colonel Burr; but he prohibited the destruction of any part of them during his lifetime. I separated them, however, from other letters in my possession, and placed them in a situation that made their publication next to impossible, whatever might have been my own fate. As soon as Colonel Burr's decease was known, with my own hands I committed to the fire all such correspondence, and not a vestige of it now remains.
It is with unaffected reluctance that this statement of facts is made; and it never would have been made but for circumstances which have transpired since the decease of Colonel Burr. A mere allusion to these circumstances will, it is trusted, furnish ample justification. No sooner had the newspapers announced the fact that the Memoirs of Colonel Burr were to be written by me, than I received letters from various quarters of the country, inquiring into the nature of the revelations that the book would make, and deprecating the introduction of individual cases. These letters came to hand both anonymously and under known signatures, expressing intense solicitude for suppression.
Under such circumstances, am I not only warranted in these remarks, but imperiously called upon to make them? What other mode remained to set the public mind at ease? I have now stated what must for ever hereafter preclude all possibility for cavil on one part, or anxiety on the other. Ialonehave possessed the private and important papers of Colonel Burr; and I pledge my honour that every one of them, so far as I know and believe, that could have injured the feelings of a female or those of her friends, is destroyed. In order to leave no chance for distrust, I will add, that I never took, or permitted to be taken, a single copy of any of these letters; and, of course, it is quite impossible that any publication hereafter, if any should be made of such papers or letters, can have even the pretence of authenticity.
THEAUTHOR.
New-York, November 15th, 1836. * * * * *
CONTENTS OFTHEFIRST VOLUME.
CHAPTER I.
Ancestors of Burr; his father's birth; preparations for the ministry; the Rev. Aaron Burr visits Boston; his account of the celebrated preacher Whitefield; is married in 1752; Nassau Hall built in Princeton in 1757; the Rev. Aaron Burr its first president; letter from a lady to Colonel Burr; from his mother to her father; death of his parents; sent to Philadelphia, under the care of Dr. Shippen; runs away when only four years of age
CHAPTER II.
Burr is removed to Stockbridge, and placed under the care of Timothy Edwards, his uncle and guardian; Edwards removes to Elizabethtown, New-Jersey; Judge Tappan Reeve is employed in the family as a private tutor to Burr; runs away to New-York at ten years of age; enters Princeton College in 1769, in the thirteenth year of his age; his habits there; an awakening in college in 1771-72; his conversation with Dr. Witherspoon on the subject; selections from his compositions while a student
CHAPTER III.
Burr's college friends; letters of William Paterson to Burr; he graduates in 1772, when sixteen years of age; remains in college to review his studies; amusing anecdote relative to Professor S. S. Smith, in the Cliosophic Society, while Burr was acting as president; letter from Timothy Dwight; from Samuel Spring; correspondence with Matthias Ogden and others, in cipher; anecdote respecting visit to a billiard-table; enters the family of Joseph Bellamy, D. D. for the purpose of pursuing a course of reading on religious topics; in 1774 determines to study the law; letter from Timothy Edwards
CHAPTER IV.
Removes to the family of Judge Reeve; amusing letter from Matthias Ogden; to Ogden; from Jonathan Bellamy; from Ogden; from Lyman Hall to the Rev. James Caldwell
CHAPTER V.
Battles of Lexington and Bunker's Hill; Burr visits Elizabethtown, and, in company with his friend Ogden, joins the army under Washington before Cambridge; great disappointment and mortification at witnessing the irregularities in the camp, and the want of a police; letter from Roger Sherman to General David Wooster; from James Duane to General Montgomery, announcing his appointment as a brigadier-general in the continental army; General Montgomery's answer; Burr sickens in camp; hears of General Arnold's intended expedition against Quebec; volunteers as a private; forms a mess, and marches from Cambridge to Newburyport with knapsack and musket; letters from Dr. James Cogswell, Peter Colt, &c. to dissuade him from proceeding with the expedition; efforts of his guardian to prevent him from marching; sufferings on the march through the wilderness; escape from drowning in passing the rapids; on arriving at the Chaudiere, is despatched by Arnold to Montgomery with information; places himself under the protection of a Catholic priest, who furnishes him with a guide; the guide becomes alarmed; Burr is secreted for some days in a convent; arrives in safety at Montgomery's headquarters; is appointed one of his aid-de-camps; the plan of attack upon Quebec changed; Judge Marshall's explanation of the reasons for the change; Burr's opinion on the same subject; the attack made on the night of the 31st of December, 1775; General Montgomery, Captains McPherson and Cheeseman, and all in front, except Burr and a French guide, killed; Colonel Campbell orders a retreat.
CHAPTER VI.
Resolve of Congress to erect a monument to the memory of General Montgomery; procured by, and executed under the superintendence of Dr. Franklin in Paris; erected in front of St. Paul's Church, in the city of New-York, in 1789; Arnold takes command; Burr acts as brigade major; Arnold resolves on demanding a surrender of Quebec, and that Burr shall be the bearer of a sealed message; refuses, without first reading its contents; after reading, considers it unbecoming an American officer, and declines delivering it; receives complimentary letters for his intrepidity in the attack; letter from Ogden; army moves to the mouth of the Sorel; Burr determines on leaving it, which Arnold forbids, but he persists; in Albany is notified that General Washington wishes him to come to New-York; reports himself to the commander-in-chief, who invites him to join his family; letter from Ogden informing him that General Washington wishes him to take up his residence at headquarters; joins Washington's family, but soon becomes discontented; on the suggestion of Governor Hancock, accepts the appointment of aid-de-camp to Major-general Putnam; letter to Ogden; reasons for quitting Washington's family; letter from Paterson to Burr; to Paterson
CHAPTER VII.
Some account of Mrs. Coghlan, daughter of Major Moncrieffe of the British army; her residence in General Putnam's family; her removal to the family of General Mifflin; her allusions, in her memoirs, to a young American officer (Colonel Burr) with whom she had become enamoured; letter of General Putnam to Miss Moncrieffe; Burr's character for intrigue; destruction of confidential papers, improper for public inspection; letter from Theodore Sedgwick to Burr; from Ogden; to T. Edwards; from Ogden; General Putnam ordered to take command on Long Island in the place of General Green; Burr reports to Putnam unfavourably of the state of the army, but proposes to beat up the enemy's quarters; is opposed to an action, considering it likely to prove disastrous; battle on the 27th of August, 1776; Burr presses upon Putnam and Mifflin the necessity of an immediate retreat; council of war, and retreat ordered; General McDOUGALL has charge of the embarcation of the troops from Brooklyn on the night of the 29th; Burr assists him; his conduct this night inspires General McDOUGALL with a confidence in him for vigilance and intrepidity which was never afterward diminished; the retreat effected in good order; Burr is in favour of an immediate evacuation of the city of New-York; on the 15th of September the British land on Manhattan Island; General Washington orders a retreat, which the enemy endeavour to intercept; in the confusion, General Silliman's brigade is left behind, and General Knox conducts it to a small fort (Bunker's Hill) in the suburbs of the city; Burr discovers the perilous situation of the brigade, and recommends Knox to retreat; Knox refuses, and denies the practicability; Burr induces the officers and men of the brigade to place themselves under his command, and, after some skirmishes, he conducts them with trifling loss to the main army; Samuel Rowland to Commodore Morris on this subject; certificate of the Rev. Hezekiah Ripley, chaplain of General Silliman's brigade, respecting their retreat under the command of Colonel Burr; also of Isaac Jennings and Andrew Wakeman, and a letter from Nathaniel Judson, in relation to the same affair
CHAPTER VIII.
Letter from Colonel Burr to Mrs. Edwards; the British army move from Brunswick to Princeton; General Washington crosses the Delaware; letter to Ogden; Burr ordered by General Washington, through Putnam, to proceed to Norwalk, Fairfield, and other places on the Sound, to "settle a line of intelligence," &c.; on his return to camp, July 21st, 1777, is appointed by Washington a lieutenant-colonel in Malcolm's regiment; Burr to Washington; joins his regiment in the Clove, Orange county; the British come out from New-York, 2000 strong, on a marauding party; Burr marches his regiment thirty miles in the afternoon and evening to attack them; before morning captures their picket-guards by surprise; the enemy retreat, leaving their plunder behind them; statement of this affair by Judge George Gardner and Lieutenant Hunter, with other details respecting Burr; Putnam orders him to join Parsons's brigade with his regiment, for the purpose of re-enforcing Washington; on the second day of his march, is ordered by General Varnum to halt and defend the bridge at Pompton against the British; in November, is stationed with his regiment, in advance of the main army, at White Marsh, in Pennsylvania; goes into winter quarters at Valley Forge; by the advice of General McDOUGALL, he is ordered by Washington to take command of a strong body of militia, posted to defend the Gulf near Valley Forge, all his senior officers having been withdrawn for the purpose of giving him the command; an intended mutiny suppressed by his promptitude and intrepidity; is of the Lee and Gates party, opposed to Washington; misunderstanding with Lord Stirling; letter from Lord Stirling; letter to him
CHAPTER IX.
Letter from Malcolm to Burr; battle of Monmouth, June 28t; arrest and trial of General Lee; Burr dissatisfied with Washington's orders to him during the action, in which he commanded a brigade; Lieutenant-colonel Dummer, under his immediate command, killed; Burr's horse shot under him; his health greatly impaired by fatigue and exposure previous to and during the action; ordered by Washington, the day after the battle, to proceed to Elizabethtown to watch the movements of the enemy; several notes of Lord Stirling to him on the subject; joins his regiment; ordered by the Baron de Kalb to West Point; the legislature of New-York adopt rigid measures in regard to the tories; Governor Clinton applies to the commander-in-chief to appoint a confidential continental officer to take charge of them, &c.; General Washington designates Colonel Burr; letter from Robert Benson to Burr on the subject; proceedings of the Board of Commissioners for defeating Conspiracies, transmitted in their letter to Burr; letter from Theodore Sedgwick; from General Lee; Burr to Washington, asking a furlough on account of ill health, without pay; from Washington, granting the furlough, but ordering the pay; Burr declines accepting it on these conditions, and joins his regiment at West Point; letter from Mrs. Montgomery to Burr; ordered by General McDOUGALL to take command of a brigade at Haverstraw, his seniors having been withdrawn for the purpose; ordered by McDOUGALL to take command of the lines in Westchester; letter to McDOUGALL, detailing the arrangement of his pickets, outposts, &c.; to McDOUGALL; from Major Platt; from McDOUGALL
CHAPTER X.
Letter from Burr to McDOUGALL; from Paterson; from Major Platt; to McDOUGALL; from McDOUGALL; from Platt; from McDOUGALL; from General Putnam; from McDOUGALL; from Samuel Young, Esq., of Westchester, to Commodore Morris, detailing Burr's military career on the lines
CHAPTER XI.
Letter from Burr to General Washington resigning his command; from Washington; from Mrs. General Montgomery; from Paterson; from McDOUGALL; at the request of General McDOUGALL, Burr consents, at great hazard, to be the bearer of a verbal confidential communication to General Washington; amusing incident at Townsend's iron-works, in Orange county, on this expedition; in July, 1779, the British under Tryon land at East Haven; Burr, although confined to a sick-bed, arises, sallies forth, takes command of the students in the college green, and checks for a time the advance of the enemy; Colonel Platt's account of Burr's military life
CHAPTER XII.
Description of Burr's person and manner; anecdote illustrative of his tact at correcting an ill-timed expression to a lady; his first acquaintance with Mrs. Prevost, subsequently his wife; letter from Mr. Monroe, late President of the United States, to Mrs. Prevost; General Washington to Mrs. Prevost; from Paterson; from Colonel Troup; the same; from Paterson; to Paterson; from Troup; from Major Alden; from Paterson; from Troup; to Troup; from Troup; the same; the same; from Peter Colt; the same; from Troup; the same
CHAPTER XIII.
Letter from Paterson to Burr; the same; from Troup; Burr commences the study of the law with Paterson, on the Rariton; removes to Haverstraw to study with Thomas Smith; capture of Andre; Mrs. Arnold's confession to Mrs. Prevost of her own guilt; scene with Mrs. Arnold at the house of Colonel Morris in 1779-80; Burr leaves Haverstraw, and goes to Albany to prepare for admission to the bar; letter to Major Alden; from Thomas Smith; from Mrs. Prevost; the same; the same; from Major Alden; to Mrs. Prevost; to Chief Justice Morris; to Mrs. Prevost; Character of Philip Van Rensselear
CHAPTER XIV.
Burr applies to the Supreme Court for admission; the bar objects to his examination; objections overruled; admitted as an attorney on the 19th January, 1782, and as counsellor on the 17th of April, 1782; commences the practice of law in Albany; letter from Major Popham; to Mrs. Prevost; Burr married to Mrs. Prevost, July, 1782; letter from Mrs. Burr; from Judge Hobart; from Mrs. Burr; the same; Burr removes to New-York; elected a member of the legislature; his opposition in that body to what was termed the Mechanics' Bill, produces great excitement; threatened riot on the subject, Series of letters between Mr. and Mrs. Burr
CHAPTER XV.
Series of letters between Mr. and Mrs. Burr continued from pages 275-285—Federal Constitution adopted; Burr nominated and defeated on the Assembly ticket of "the Sons of Liberty," in opposition to the Federal ticket; he supports Judge Yates in opposition to George Clinton for the office of governor; Clinton elected; soon after tenders Burr the office of attorney-general; he takes time to deliberate; his letter to Governor Clinton, agreeing to serve; is appointed attorney-general, September, 1789; commissioners appointed by the legislature to report on revolutionary claims against the state; Burr one of them; letters to and from Mrs. Burr; letter to his daughter Theodosia; from Dr. Benjamin Rush; to Theodosia
CHAPTER XVI.
Report of the commissioners, in pursuance of the act entitled An act to receive and state accounts against the state, drawn by Burr; appointed senator of the United States, 1791; caution in correspondence; sales of the public lands by "the commissioners of the land office," of which board Burr was a member; great dissatisfaction as to those sales; subject brought before the Assembly with a view to the impeachment of the board; Burr exonerated from censure; assembly approve the conduct of the commissioners; anecdote of Melancton Smith and General Hamilton; Burr, during his first session in the United States Senate, with the sanction of the secretary of state (Mr. Jefferson), is employed in examining the records of the department; is prevented from proceeding, by order of President Washington; Mr. Jefferson to Burr on the subject; contested election between Clinton and Jay for governor; canvassers differ as to the legality of certain votes; apply to Rufus King and Burr for advice; King and Burr differ in opinion; Burr proposes to decline giving advice; Mr. King objects; in consequence, they give separate and conflicting opinions; Burr becomes zealous in support of that which he has given; seven of the canvassers decide on destroying the votes of Otsego, Clinton, and Tioga counties; four object; statement of the case; opinion of Mr. King; opinion of Mr. Burr; letter from Jonathan D. Sargeant; subject of the canvassers taken up by the legislature; protest of the minority; reasons assigned to the legislature by the majority in vindication of their conduct, drawn by Burr; Assembly approve the conduct of the majority; letter from Burr to Jacob De Lamater, explaining his own course in the contested election between Clinton and Jay
CHAPTER XVII.
Burr appointed a judge of the Supreme Court; declines, but Governor Clinton does not report the fact until called upon by a resolution of the legislature; chairman of the Senate Committee to answer the president's speech, the first session of his membership; reports the answer next day, which is adopted without opposition; defeats a bill to increase the standing army by his single objection; letters to Mrs. Burr; series of letters to his daughter Theodosia; teaches his slaves to read and write; letters from one of them
CHAPTER XVIII.
Burr's manner of speaking; Albert Gallatin appointed a senator of the United States; objections to the legality of his appointment; Burr ardent in support of Gallatin; note of John Taylor, of Virginia, to Burr, on the subject of replying to Rufus King; Senate decide against Gallatin; Burr offers resolutions against sending an envoy extraordinary to England, in 1794, and against selecting ajudgefor the station; votes against John Jay; discontents of the Democratic party with General Washington for continuing Gouverneur Morris in France; certain members of Congress recommend Colonel Burr to fill the station; appoint Mr. Madison and Mr. Monroe to notify the president of their wishes; General Washington refuses to make the appointment, but agrees to nominate Mr. Monroe; Burr's opposition to Jay's treaty; proposes amendments, which are rejected; letter to Thomas Morris; detail of legislative proceedings in procuring the charter of the Manhattan Company; Burr's conduct on the occasion; his duel with John B. Church, Esq.; letter of Burr to ——-, giving a history of his transactions with the Holland Land Company; his daughter married; Miss Burr to Joseph Alston; letter from Alston to Miss Burr on early marriages; contested election in New-York in 1800; Burr a candidate for the office of Vice President; a tie vote with Mr. Jefferson
MEMOIRS OF AARON BURR.